Uneven Development and Globalization
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Keywords: uneven development geography, uneven development causes
Globalization is accelerating with pace and scale and enables access to new markets and ideas that enhance the welfare of people but it does have negative effects and uneven development in many parts of the world. The essay will discuss in detail the uneven development as the hallmark of the geography of capitalism and the differences it creates between the core and the periphery countries. What is globalization? Jagdish N. Bhagwati (2004) in In Defence of Globalization explains globalization to be a process in which economies, societies and cultures integrate through exchanging information, ideas via transportation and trade and form a single world society. Sheila L. Croucher (2004) in her book Globalization and Belonging: The Politics of Identity in Changing World explain global interaction is achieved through stretching of social, economic and political activities across regions, country borders and continents (10-17).
Shehzad Nadeem (2009) in his article Macaulay's (Cyber) Children writes that globalization has sown a seed of desire in an individual to increase one's standard of living and enjoy foreign products and adopt new technology(102- 122). This resulted in an uneven development as a lot of people living in third world countries wish to migrate to core countries to earn money to afford lavish lifestyle. Those who cannot afford the luxuries of life get into theft and vandalism to destroy those who enjoy the facilities and this is one of the disadvantages of globalization.
Core or industrialized countries are financially stable in which countries in the Northern Hemisphere can be included such as Canada, USA and Western European countries such as New Zealand, Japan and Australia. These countries are also called developed countries in which the Gross Domestic Product exceeds 8,200 per capita (1). These countries are progressing because of the continued improvement due to economic growth. Peripheral countries are regions that have unfavourable trade relationship, out-of-date technologies and undeveloped economies with low levels of productivity. Economic globalization has brought many social problems with it such as poverty in poor countries and is affecting the environment around the world.
The question is whether or not globalization tends to increase the poverty level. We can see that globalization has given rise to the flow of trade. Movement of goods give rise to economic growth by providing employment opportunities. Developing countries like China, India, Thailand and Bangladesh are in favour of providing goods and services to the developed countries. According to Jagdish Bhagwati, although there are problems created because of rapid development but globalization helps in a positive way to lift countries out of poverty. Bhagwati argues that educated workers both in core and developing countries are competing on a global job market scale for high paid jobs. An example of this can be educated workers in Canada who know their rights and prefer to have high paying employment. He also explains the fact of choice that educated workers have of migrating to the industrialized countries for work or staying in their home countries.
Globalization of job market has resulted in some adverse impacts in some countries. Engineers, professors, journalists and highly educated people are competing in the world market and are employed on high wages. Reich argues that service and production workers in the periphery or the Third World countries are unable to compete with workers working in the core countries and thus are disadvantaged through having low paid jobs and unhealthy working conditions (2). This resulted in an increasing gap between the incomes of the poor and rich and created class inequalities. An example of this can be the factories in China and Indonesia where Nike shoes are made but sold in core countries. During the 1970's, most Nike shoes were made in South Korea and Taiwan but the workers there gained new freedom to organize and wages began to rise so the company recently shifted to Vietnam. Thus industrial activities moved to areas with the least pollution and worker safety regulations. Nike sells its shoes for such high prices that it can well afford to double the wages of workers without increasing the retail price (3). It has been seen that the rich manufacturing companies close their factories in the countries where labour laws alter and shift to other countries where labour laws are not strict such as Bangladesh.
Kristof explains that globalization has also resulted in foreign businesses in core countries to take advantage of the workers in poor countries by utilizing their talent but giving them low wages. Sweatshops created by manufacturers are environments in which working conditions are difficult or dangerous. Sweatshops can be anywhere and are not only a feature of less developed countries (4). Developed nations have outsourced manufacturing and white collar jobs. That means fewer jobs for their people.
This practise is supported by developing countries because it provides employment to the people and benefit to the employers in the less developed countries. The selling of products in core countries made in the periphery or the developing countries is a shift of production that is part of the globalization process. Globalization has a disadvantage to the developing countries as the production workers in these countries are dependent on the work given to them by the core countries and if the core countries experience any work related issues, workers in the developing countries do get affected.
Globalization gave rise to migration to the core or the industrialized countries from the less developed or developing countries. Opportunities in these rich and economically stable countries drive a lot of potential talent to migrate from poor countries, leading to brain drain. This trend has been seen in Canada, which is a country known for its broad immigration policy which permits between 221,352 and 262,236 immigrants per annum. Canada is attracting immigrants to contribute economically to the country and fill labour market needs (5). It has also been seen that Canada permits a lot of international students from many different countries that also includes third world countries. Another example of brain drain can be a study that shows that the mass departure of people for higher studies is costing India a forex outflow of $10 billion annually (6). The flow of people from the less developed countries for higher standards is actually making those countries economically less stable. It was seen that the amount invested by students is sufficient to open as many as 20 engineering and management institutes of repute in India to prevent brain drain (6).
Globalization made it easy to access education through the internet and availability of the other electronic gadgets. An example of globalization found in Pakistan, is Namal College, an initiative taken by Pakistani politician, Imran Khan. This college is affiliated with University of Bradford in United Kingdom. This gives an opportunity to the less privileged people to access high quality education sitting in a third world country.
Latest news about the surroundings and awareness about other aspects of life is only accessible to the ones who have television and internet. People sitting in a remote village of India or Bangladesh where there is no electricity and educated people will not be aware of what is going in other parts of the world. The luxurious and the attractive things in life like branded clothes and continental hotels in core countries is a major consequence of globalization process affiliated with tourism and travel industry. In periphery countries people are wearing the same design and style clothes as someone wearing in core countries. But the clothes they wear are not made by the original brand production but an exact copy of the design locally produced and you bet if anyone can figure out the difference. This is because of the high selling cost of these branded clothes which the people in periphery countries cannot afford to buy. Although the same brand clothes are made in the periphery countries on low production rates but they are sold on high prices because of the label under which they are sold.
Globalization can have different effects on different countries depending on the history and the stability of the country. Globalization has an important aspect of economics related with it which affects politics. Politics also affects economics and both of these affect the cultural dimension of globalization. Globalization of culture is also an important aspect of bringing change. The fear is that the core countries like United States might overrun the other smaller periphery countries' cultures leading to adopt the customs and values of western countries. This process is known McDonaldization or Americanization (7). Due to the globalization in the world, some cultures are fading away. An example of this can be Kalash Valley in Pakistan where people have unique traditions, practices and traditional dressing. Also culinary culture is becoming globalized. For example, Indian food, Japanese noodles and American fast food is becoming very popular outside their countries of origin. Globalization has influenced the use of language across the world. An example of it can be seen in the streets of Hong Kong that shows signs that incorporate both Chinese and British English.
A decline in fossil fuels is seen as it is being used up the countries which have the reserves and also it is exported to the countries that do not have reserves of their own. This way core countries such as Canada and Saudi Arabia generate a lot of money by exporting fossil fuels particularly petroleum. Poor countries such as Pakistan have almost run out of their reserves and their economy does not allow them to import petroleum and this is the reason why the country is facing transportation and food production crisis. Many poor countries have heavy debt burden, which bound these countries to over exploit their resources in a bid to repay the debt. "Besides they are bound to implement unfavourable policies that are endorsed by the money lenders, some with disastrous effects on the economy" (8).
Due to globalization, various infectious diseases are spreading. Diseases such as AIDS and tuberculosis and illnesses such as small pox are contagious. Due to modern modes of transportation, people can travel around the world at a faster pace, making the airways the transcontinental movement of infectious disease vectors. According to Barry et al. the Black Death which started in Asia killed at least one-third of Europe's population in the 14th century. It has been known that due to immigration to United States, 500,000 people in the country were infected with Chagas disease (9).
Globalization gives rise to racism as many immigrants from the periphery countries are migrating to the core countries where they consider themselves as aliens. The reason for this feeling can be a sense of discrimination against the immigrants and a tool of exploitation used on them by not giving them jobs and acknowledgement of their credentials from the people in the core countries (10). The foreign workers who come as temporary workers from the periphery countries are sometimes not treated well by their employers in the core countries. People coming to the core countries from the less developed countries are given entry because of their education and experience. But when they come to the core countries they are told that they are over-qualified and do not have local experience to earn good jobs. Now people live in constant dread of losing their jobs to competition. Increased job competition has led to reduction in wages and consequently lower standards of living.
The main export of peripheral countries is usually agricultural goods. Hurst E. Charles argues that rich countries often give their farmers some subsides or incentives which lower the market price for the poor farmer's crops compared to what it would be under free trade (11). The rich economically dominant class exercises its power within specific territories. Families that were once part of the middle class were forced into lower positions by massive lay-offs and outsourcing to other countries (12).
Core countries which are financially stable are against child labour as it is illegal in many rich countries. But in developing countries like India, child labour is practised due to lack of education and also the country is experiencing an increase in demand of labour. Countries in the global south do face economic issues and are under the pressure of returning the loans taken from the World Bank, International Monetary Fund, and European Union which are paid back with interest. "The cumulative debt of lower income countries is upper than 1 trillion dollars and cumulative interest payment approximately 100 million dollars per year" (1).
Globalization may have caused a global division of labour between developed and developing countries. In many developing countries, women tend to work in agricultural sector in which they are paid less. For example, Tauli-Corpuz (2001) examines globalization to be affecting the indigenous women in the Philippines in terms of health impacts and discusses important issues including the "feminisation of labour in industry and services". Women work very hard as food producers, playing an important role in food security but the exporters or importers take advantage of the hard work of women as women in poor countries do not know enough about the new markets and latest technologies. An example can be the inability to compete with imported crops, also the health hazards from working in unhealthy conditions (12). Massive entry of women into the workforce around the world is one of the aspects of globalization. Women in the periphery countries are crowded into lower paying jobs where as women in core countries are sitting in air-conditioned offices and we can see the inequality of gender of globalization.
Globalization also leads to ethnic inequalities that have significant repercussions for the safety and protection of communities in other parts of the world. An example of the ethnic global influence can be the destruction of the Twin Towers of the World Trade Centre in New York City, the largest city of the United States of America. Muslims were accused being involved in the event. This event had a huge impact on the other parts of the world in terms of the economical, political and immigration changes across the world.
It has been seen that globalization has also resulted in the weakening of the poor countries due to the violation of human rights and elite-controlled economies. Globalization has brought a tremendous impact upon human civilization (16). It now depends on the people how to handle it. Some countries have tackled it well and now are on the way to become next super powers in the world. So globalization has both good and detrimental effects but it's up to the countries which use it.
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